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Ronwen Williams spot-on again as South Africa clinch third place

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 10 Feb 2024

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South Africa claimed third place in the Africa Cup of Nations, beating DR Congo 6-5 in a tense penalty shoot-out after surviving a second-half onslaught during the 90 minutes.

Bafana Bafana appeared second favourites in the shoot-out after Teboho Mokoena hit the post with the first spot-kick to hand DR Congo an immediate advantage and the stage was set for captain Chancel Mbemba to hit the winner, only to see his effort saved by Ronwen Williams.

And Williams – who saved four penalties in the quarter-final shoot-out win over Cape Verde – was the hero again after he kept out Mischack Elia’s penalty to seal the win.

It came after a 90 minutes in which DR Congo threatened again and again, but could not find a way to beat Williams.

The goalkeeper was quickly off his line to deny Silas Wamangituka, clean through on goal after eight minutes.

Simon Banza appeared to be through in the 27th minute but he could not get the proper contact on his shot and it dribbled back to Williams.

As half-time loomed, Elia tried to find Banza in front of goal but Siyanda Xulu made a crucial intervention to stop the danger.

DR Congo remained the more dangerous of the two teams at the start of the second half. When Grady Diangana lifted a ball through for Banza he got enormous power on his hooked shot, but could not keep it down as it whistled over the crossbar.

Elia tried his luck with a free-kick just before the hour, but his curling shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

The pressure kept coming, and should have resulted in a goal in the 65th minute. Williams completely fluffed gathering a high ball, gifting possession to Elia. His cross was deflected but it fell to Silas, who had a glorious chance in front of goal only to drag it wide.

Substitute Ricardo Goss then wasted an equally glorious chance in the 75th minute, hooking over from point-blank range as he back-pedalled, making contact off-balance.

Having been under pressure for so long, South Africa had a great chance to win it with five minutes left when Mihlali Mayambela broke through the offside trap, but with team-mates better placed he tried to beat Dimitry Bertaud from a tight angle and failed.

DR Congo went to the other end where substitute Fiston Mayele got away from Xulu with great control, only to drag his shot across goal from a tight angle and ensure the contest would be decided from the spot.

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